BCG leads University of Melbourne regional student tour


Ten students and academics from The University of Melbourne gained valuable insights into the diverse farming systems in the Birchip region on a recent tour led by BCG.  A particular focus of the two-day trip was the investigation of opportunities for AgTech development to improve farming operations and safety.

The ‘Cross-sector Collaboration Program’ funded by Regional Development Victoria, has provided funding for BCG staff and faculty leaders at The University of Melbourne to work together to identify opportunities for students from non-traditional avenues to undertake semester-long projects focused on the agriculture/grains sector.

James Allan (Narraport) provided an overview the functions of a disc seeder and controlled traffic farming systems for water retention and infiltration.

Funding has been used to facilitate activities such as student placements, projects, field trips and farm tours as well as support and mentoring for students throughout their studies, creating stronger connections between BCG and The University of Melbourne.

The group met with Cherie and Richard Reilly at their property at Corack, and James Allan at Narraport where students were given the opportunity to better understand the scale of equipment in use in a cropping enterprise. Students also toured a sheep containment facility guided by Danny Lowry (Lowry Bros. Birchip) and an intensive duck operation led by Peter Noonan (Birchip).

The University of Melbourne’s Dr Felix Kin Peng Hui has been coordinating the students’ projects alongside BCG: “The program provides an opportunity for our students in the Computer & Information Systems and Engineering faculties at Melbourne University to consider career pathways in the agricultural industry.” he explained

“The students and staff were impressed by the scale of the operations, and the innovative technology and decision making that goes into broadacre farming in the Mallee. Working with BCG has given us access to an organisation that has a real connection to farmers and the region. This is invaluable for our projects and student learning.”

BCG Senior Manager Tom Draffen indicates a sown paddock

The Cross-sector Collaboration Program is one of four key activities funded through the RDV AgTIDE Education and Training project which has also provided investment in non-accredited precision ag workshops for farmers, digital agronomy training packages and support for the development of the DATA Farm at Longerenong College.

BCG CEO Fiona Best is hopeful the program will be seen by other universities as a model for engaging with the industry and providing academia an opportunity to identify real challenges and opportunities for R&D: BCG has always provided a conduit between scientific research and implementation by farmers and through programs such as the Cross-sector collaboration effort we have the next generation of engineers and computer scientists focusing on agriculture.

BCG hosted ten students and academics from The University of Melbourne, taking them on a regional tour to showcase the diverse farming systems and technology used as part of the students’ studies. Engineering Students (Left to Right): Maria Belen Tokatlian (Student-Master of Engineering management), Cherie Reilly (Farmer), Jonathan Yip (Student-Master of Engineering management), Mericia Rosslee (Student-Master of Engineering management), Christia Quijano (Student-Master of Engineering management)

BCG would like to extend our thanks to all the farmers who took time out of their busy schedules to facilitate and host the students.

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